While some travellers take the fastest possible route to London, taking only a two- or three-hour layover and not leaving the airport, others take time out and smell the flowers en route, perhaps making several stops on their way to Heathrow.

The possibilities are virtually limitless, but here are five of the most popular stopovers

Bangkok (BKK)

Times: LON 11.5-13hrs; SYD 9-10hrs; AKL 11.5-12hrs.
Why? It’s a vibrant and amazingly varied place, from the cultured Old City to the sleazy but car-crash-fascinating nightlife area of Patpong. And it’s cheap.
Why not? Bangkok might be affordable but rip-offs are common, with cab drivers, street merchants and all manner of ne’er-do-wells in Patpong on the make. Be alert.
If you only do one thing: Visit Wat Pho, an extraordinary temple in the Old City famous for its huge reclining Buddha.

Dubai (DXB)

Times: LON 7-8hrs; SYD 14-15hrs.
Why? The climate, the beaches … oh, and the fact that Dubai is arguably the fastest-changing city in the world right now, a quite ridiculous artificial paradise in the most unexpected place.
Why not? Amazing it may be, but it’s not exactly all in the best possible taste. Although the ambition and affluence is amazing, some visitors find Dubai little more than a theme park for very, very rich kids.
If you only do one thing: Wander around Deira, one of the few pedestrian-friendly parts of Dubai.

Los Angeles (LAX)

Times: LON 10-11.5hrs; SYD 13.5-15hrs; AKL 12-13hrs.
Why? The airport (LAX) is right on the Pacific coast — it’s only a shortish bus or cab ride to kooky Venice Beach, bijou Santa Monica and surfer-packed Huntington Beach. And with the US dollar relatively weak right now, it’s currently good value.
Why not? LA has more unnecessary sprawl than a dozen porn stars playing Twister  — you’ll need a week if you really want to get under the skin of the city, and a car may also be required.
If you only do one thing: Stroll along Venice Beach: it’s a bit Camden-on-Sea these days, but it’s not without its goofball charms.

Singapore (SIN)

Times: LON 12.5-14hrs; SYD 7.5-8hrs; AKL 9.5-10.5hrs.
Why? A favourite among travelling Australians for years, Singapore retains a character all its own, an island nation swimming in culture and rich in amazing, affordable restaurants
Why not? The history of the city has been overwhelmed by the present to the detriment of the place’s individuality. At times, it feels like a toned-down, pre-watershed remix of a standard Asian metropolis.
If you only do one thing: Visit the Night Safari, a fascinating, atmospheric after-dark zoo.

Hong Kong (HKG)

Times: LON 11.5-13hrs; SYD 9hrs; AKL 11-11.5hrs.
Why? Its stormy history and ever-changing present means there’s nowhere quite like Hong Kong, a vibrant blend of Chinese reliability and cosmopolitan chaos.
Why not? It can be expensive, and the often-hyped nightlife arguably promises more than it delivers.
If you only do one thing: Catch the nightly Symphony of Lights, a skyscraper-mounted display that’s as dazzling a display of wealth as you’ll ever see.